Frequently the hot topic in blogs, articles and marketing slogans, the new buzzword in the industry is “big data.” So what is it and why should you care? Some definitions include every type of data source imaginable, from shopper, consumer, point-of-sale (POS) and syndicated to shipment, internal inventory, cost of goods sold, demographic, social media, SEO, etc.
Together in the right combination, these data points provide powerful insights to help you grow your business. It's not critical that you adopt a big data strategy if you're new to category management. It is, however, important to understand the power of the data and know how to use it to ascertain actionable business building insights.
Big data, big power
The term big data can seem overwhelming; it sounds scary and complicated. It doesn't need to be. What's important is what you need to help you run your business. You've heard the expression, “you have to learn to walk before you can run.” True category management is similar in that starting slow with the basics and adopting strategic business-building principlesis an important step in constructing your understanding.
Big data in mainstream is dramatically different than what's available in natural. The databases are more robust and sophisticated to be able to produce the amazing reports that you may see in a webinar or on a company website. While everyone would love to have pushbutton analytics at their fingertips, the data does no good if you don't understand it. Nothing is more frustrating than spending hard-earned money on a series of complex and advanced reports when you can't get the insights you need out of them.
Canned topline reports are a great way to develop a familiarity and comfort with data.
- First seek to understand the health of every category and then identify the items that are helping the category grow.
- From there, compare the category to your competition. Are you up or down compared to them and are you getting your fair share? Data that is not actionable is essentially worthless.
These basic questions must be answered before you start looking at your pricing structure and your promotion effectiveness. As you become comfortable with the data, you then begin to understand how it can help you. It can provide you with a significant competitive advantage in any situation if used properly.
It's OK to test the waters before you jump right in—and it's safer, especially if you don't know how to swim. Data and insights can be a tremendous asset in helping you build and even save the life of your business.
How do you maximize the insight you get from your data?